The picturesque and sleepy little town of Silves can be found in the protective shadow of a Moorish castle. Many a tale has been told to visitors over the years of the legends of Arab princess and the history of this Algarve town. During the Arab occupation, the town was known as Xelb and played an important role in the occupation of the Iberian peninsula.
During the occupation of the peninsula, the whole region was known as Al-Faghar and it was Silves which was the capital. The town was known as the Baghdad of the West by many travelers of the time because of the many fine bazaars that stretched out throughout the town.
The only thing that remains today to tell the tale of Silves’ past is that of the castle walls; many of which still stand today as a testament to the workmanship of the day. There are also several ancient Arabian grain silos as well as a water tower that was built in the 13th century which stands 10 meters high.
When the Christians retook Algarve in the 13th century, there was much celebrating in Silves and as such, the mosque that was built in town was torn down and upon its foundation was built a cathedral which was once the home of King João II’s tomb. Although the remains of this Portuguese king have been long since moved, the history and legends of days gone by are still shared with anyone who visits today.
Perhaps the biggest event of the year is the Medieval Festival that occurs at the start of summer every year. During the festival, the entire town gets involved in the reenactments of the life and times. You will find all throughout the town, a multitude of jugglers, acrobats, minstrels and street vendors who sell all kinds of crafts.
For the rest of the year, Silves is a sleepy picturesque town which that is just waiting for you to visit and experience its rich history.